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Old Testament Survey

Jeremiah




Key Verses

1:4-10
7:23, 24
8:11, 12


Key Chapters

Chapter 1
Chapter 23
Chapter 31, 32


Key Concepts

Backsliding
Unfaithfulness


Thoughts for Reading

Are you walking with God?
Or, have you walked away from Him?


Title -- Author

Jeremiah’s name means "God establishes" or "throws/lays a foundation." With the assistance of his servant, Baruch, this prophet is the author of the book bearing his name. Indeed, God commanded Jeremiah to write down the words which He had given to the prophet (36:1-3). In fact, King Jehoiakim destroyed Jeremiah’s first scroll as it was read to him, but the prophet had Baruch make another copy (36:32). It is likely that chapters 26-52 may be an appendix added to the prophet’s original scroll by Baruch after Jeremiah’s death.

Jeremiah is known as:

  • The weeping prophet (9:1; 13:17)
  • The lonely prophet (16:2, the command not to marry)
  • The reluctant prophet (1:6)

Jeremiah was the “son of Hilkiah" (1:1). The prophet commenced his ministry at about age twenty in the thirteenth year of Josiah (626 B.C.). He was of a priestly family (1:1) and lived in Anathoth, about three miles from Jerusalem. He may have been well off financially since he bought the estate of his bankrupt kinsman, apparently without any difficulty. After the death of Josiah, Jeremiah suffered great persecution. Under Jehoiakim, Jeremiah was forbidden to enter the Temple precinct. At this point, the prophet starts to use Baruch as his spokesperson. It appears the prophet dictated the messages Baruch delivered.

King Zedekiah allowed the nobles to arrest Jeremiah as a traitor urging the nation to submit to Babylon. At the same time, King Zedekiah was also fearful of Jeremiah because of the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy of the Chaldean invasion (598). As a result, Zedekiah rescued Jeremiah, providing him safety until the fall of Jerusalem.

After the fall of Jerusalem, the Babylonians offered Jeremiah a place of honor since they viewed his efforts as an urging to the Jews to submit to the invaders. The prophet rejected this honor, however, and chose to remain in Palestine. After Gedaliah was murder, the remnant of Jews carried Jeremiah off to Egypt, against the desires of the prophet. Jeremiah’s message to the people continued to be to trust God and to remain in the land. Jeremiah apparently died in Egypt after a few years of living there.

Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Daniel, and Ezekiel all fall into the same time frame as Jeremiah.

Accordingly, the dates of Jeremiah’s prophecy covered the period from around 627 B.C. to at least 586 B.C., and perhaps to 582 B.C.

God chose Jeremiah to be His prophet for this time. Jeremiah, like Isaiah, recognized his short comings for fulfilling his prophetic office.

Jeremiah 1:4-8
Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. 6 Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. 7 But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. 8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The Northern Kingdom fell to the Assyrians in 722/721 B.C. Josiah brought about the final spiritual revival for Judah when he came to the throne about one hundred years later (622 B.C.). The Assyrian Empire fell to the Babylonians during Josiah’s reign. Their capital city, Nineveh, fell in 612 B.C. and The Assyrian army fell in 609 B.C.

The valley of Meggido plays an important role in both past and future history. Armageddon in Hebrew means the mountain of Megiddo. The valley or plain is generally believed to be the plain of Esdraelon (Joshua 17:11; 1 Chron 7:29). Here, Solomon walled the city (1 Kings 9:15). It is the valley where Deborah defeats Sisera (Judges 5:19). Ahaziah dies here (2 Kings 9:27) and Josiah is slain here by Pharaoh-neco (2 Kings 23:29,30; 2 Chron 35:22-24). It has been the site of important battles ever since, including one fought by Tuthmosis III in 1468 B.C. and that of Lord Allenby in 1917. The “mountains of Israel” witness Gog’s defeat in Ezek. 39:1-4, which is most likely this same valley. It is the scene of the final battle of history (Rev 19:17-21).

The Babylonian empire came to prominence under Merodach Baladan, the father of Nabopolassar and grandfather of Nebuchadnezzar. It was Merodach who sent ambassadors to Hezekiah (Isa 39; 2 Kings 20:12-19). In October 626 B.C. Nabopolassar defeated the Assyrians outside of Babylon. Then Nabopolassar expanded his kingdom by joining forces with the Medes. It was this alliance which destroyed Nineveh. Josiah removed Judah from Assyrian control and remained independent until 609 B.C. when Judah lost the battle with Egypt on the plains of Meggido, at which time Josiah was killed (2 Chron 35:20-24). Egypt and Assyria both disappear as a world power., although Egypt still exercised power over Judah. Necho replaced Josiah’s son, Jehoahaz, with another son, Jehoiakim, after Jehoahaz had been king for only three months (2 Kings 23:34-35). The Jewish treasury was plundered and Jehoahaz was carried into captivity in Egypt. In 605 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar defeats the Egyptians at Carchemish. Showing some worldly shrewdness, Jehoiakim moves his loyalty to the Babylonians (2 Kings 24:1). Nebuchadnezzar returns to Babylon due to the death of his father, Nabopolassar. He takes hostages with him, including Daniel (Dan 1:1-6).

Jeremiah fits within the scope of 1 Kings 22-25

In 598 Jerusalem is attacked by Babylonia leading to Jehoiakim&s death. The city surrenders under the hand of his successor Jehoiachin (597). Jehoiachin is replaced as king after only three months of reign. He and 10,000 other leaders are deported. Jerusalem is looted and Zedekiah becomes the vassal king (cf. 2 Kings 24:12-16). Zedekiah forms a coalition with Egypt to revolt against Babylon. This leads to the final destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 586 B.C.

Evil-Merodach (Ewal Marduk) restored Jehoiachin on the 27th day of the 12th month of the 37th year of the captivity (506 B.C.; 2 Kings 25:27), but he did not allow the Jewish king to return home.

PURPOSES

The Septuagint version of Jeremiah is about 25% shorter than the Masoretic Text. The reasons for this are unclear, although it is possible a different version of Jeremiah was published in Egypt during or after the Prophet’s exile there.

Jeremiah’s mission was clearing to warn Judah of impending judgment. As with almost all of the prophets, this message was in the form of a call to repentance and obedience of God’s Word. Further, the message was designed to provide a historical record of Jerusalem’s defeat and the fall of Judah into captivity. This defeat is clearly tied to the disobedience of God’s Word. At the same time, Jeremiah’s message contains the seed of promise of restoration. Indeed, the final portion of the expansion of the Abrahamic covenant is found within the pages of Jeremiah’s prophecies.

Jeremiah 31:31-34
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

The “new” of the New Covenant:

Jeremiah was a man of prayer (11;18-12:6; 15:10-21; 17:12-18; 18:18-23; 20:7-18). He saw sin for what it was (17:-9) and his message was one of the need for repentance (chps 3, 4). The great prophet found God in the small things of life. For example, it is from Jeremiah we get the picture of God as the potter (chps 18, 19). Jeremiah found religion to be a personal experience. Religion was not set in the trappings of rituals, but in the personal relationship one has with God (3:16; 7:9-15; 20:7-18). This message is contrary to the apparent teachings of the Mosaic rituals and Temple worship which seem to stress the corporate nature of the Jewish religion.

A simple outline of the book is:

Jesus in Jeremiah

Jesus is pictured in many portions of this great book. He is:

Jeremiah has one other prophecy of extreme importance to the Messiah. In 22:28-30, the prophet curses Jehoiachin (also known in Scripture as Jeconiah and Coniah). The curse is that no physical descendent of Jehoiachin will succeed to the throne.

Matthew’ genealogy (1:1-17) traces Christ through Solomon and Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) to His legal, but not physical father, Joseph. This establishes the legal rights to the throne without violating the curse.

Luke’s genealogy (3:23-38) traces Christ through David’s son Nathan (3:31), establishing Jesus as physically being from the house of David. The Davidic Covenant is, thus, fulfilled without violating the curse.

One of the great prophecies of Jeremiah relative to the history of the Jewish nation is found in Jeremiah 25:9-13 where the prophet looks to the end of the Babylonian captivity by predicting its length of 70 years. It is apparently this prophecy which Daniel is reading in Daniel 9:2 when he determines the end of the captivity is near and presents his great prayer to God. The prayer is followed by Daniel’s great prophecy of time, the “seventy weeks” of Jewish history (9:224-27). We will look at the meaning of this prophecy when we consider Daniel.

Are you clay?

Have you allowed God to shape you as He wants?

One Old Testament method of finding God, which apparently develops into a ritual in the New Testament among the Pharisees, is the issue of fasting. People fasted to seek God’s favor (2 Sam 12:21); to mourn the dead (1 Sam 31:130, to commemorate a tragic time (Zech 7:5). The people fasted individually (1 Kings 21:27) and in groups (John 3:5). The New Testament church seems to practice fasting (Acts 13:3), perhaps in response to the words of Christ (Matt 6:16-18). Consider the words of Isaiah on this topic:

Isaiah 58:1-7
Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. 2Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. 3Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. 4Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. 5Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? 6Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? 7Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

As Christians should we fast today?

Remember that there is no commandment to fast. But the reasons given by Isaiah still apply. Fasting means more than just doing away with food. It involves humbling one’s heart with a view of improving one’s spiritual living. There is no guarantee of an answer from God to any prayers when you fast. Fasting helps us to concentrate on Him. It does not change His mind for His Will toward our circumstances. Nor will it in and of itself make a Christian spiritually mature. Fasting should be done privately to draw closer to God (Matt 6:16-18).

Do you fast properly? Should you fast?

Social Issues Today

All of the prophets spoke against the social issues of their day. While the terms may have changed, the social ills remain the same. Men turn from God toward their own lusts – power, sex, alcohol and drugs, murder, stealing, lying. Consider the following and reflect on how much things remain the same. “There is no new thing under the sun” (Ecc 1:9).

Would the message of the prophets be any different today?

 

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December 10, 2019

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